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Kentico 11 Features and Release Date Revealed

May 17, 2017

By 

LONDON — It was an uncharacteristically sunny day in England’s capital, one of the seven stops on Kentico’s ongoing global roadshow.

Kentico CEO Petr Palas started off the day with an introduction to the benefits of headless CMS — the model adopted by the company via the recent release of Kentico Cloud. 

'We’re Accelerating the Development of Kentico Cloud'

Petr Palas gave the packed room a look at Kentico Cloud’s UI, as well as its blogging, analytical and personalization features.

“You don’t need to rely on developers to create pages. We wanted to make sure marketers weren’t restricted,” Palas explained as he walked the crowd through a quick landing page deployment via drag-and-drop interface.

.@PetrPalas is demonstrating how a marketer might use @Kentico Cloud to blog and publish landing pages #KenticoRoadshowpic.twitter.com/mpFB0yyDhl

— CMSWire.com (@cmswire) May 16, 2017

"We are accelerating the development of Kentico Cloud this year,” he continued. 

Palas also explained that asset management and personalized content recommendations were high on the priority list for the rest of the calendar year. 

The First Glimpse of Kentico 11

Petr Palas then made way on the stage for Kentico’s director of product, Karol Jarkovsky.

We're now getting some insights into @Kentico 11, which will include a built-in widget-based email marketing feature #KenticoRoadshowpic.twitter.com/YBdGUVVwnw

— CMSWire.com (@cmswire) May 16, 2017

Jarkovsky used his time in front of the crowd to discuss the company's future plans, starting with a release date for Kentico 11 — Nov. 29, 2017.

To reiterate Kentico’s commitment to keep both Kentico Cloud and Kentico CMS running in tandem, Jarkovsky also mentioned users should expect Kentico 12 to arrive sometime in November 2018. 

He then went on to detail the two key areas of focus Kentico has identified for Kentico 11: email marketing and enhanced campaign management. 

“There are over 200 billion emails sent every day, most of them with marketing messages,” Jarovsky said as he demonstrated the visual, widget-based email builder which is built into Kentico 11.

Along with features to match some of those provided by the likes of Mailchimp and ConstantContact, Kentico is hoping to differentiate its email marketing platform by its native integration with data already collected within the Kentico instance.

Finally, he moved on to the enhanced campaign management tool that will also come as part of the Kentico 11 package. The tool will help marketers drill down into their social referral traffic to not just see which channels are bringing traffic, but which particular social posts, too.

'Too Many Bells and Whistles'

After Palas and Jarkovsky's presentations, I sat down with Jarkovsky to further discuss the company's future.

"Too many platforms with too many bells and whistles to impress the customer, but eventually they find out they either don't need/ or can’t implement them. We’re trying to stay lean, to bring customers the most critical features that will actually get used."

On the subject of Kentico 11’s enhanced campaign management features, Jarkovsky explained, “a lot of other tools make you terminate existing campaigns in order to start a new ones. So if you learn from your data and want to make a tweak, many platforms force you [to delete your progress and start again]. With Kentico 11, data won’t be lost in this way, as campaigns will be continuously reconfigured, not restarted."

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What do marketers need to know about headless CMS?

May 16, 2017

What is headless CMS and how can it benefit marketers?

It’s a question that you may have either been asked or have asked yourself in the last few months—"what exactly is headless CMS and why should marketers care?" It's unproven. It's not ready to use. It's too technical. It's only for developers. All common concerns that I have heard to date. But that's not the whole story. The CMS marketplace is moving on and it’s important to understand how.

The Stuff of Nightmares

For many marketers technical advancements are a nightmare. Having to learn new technologies, keep up with the times, and figure out how to utilise them to their full potential—it's all very scary. But headless CMS doesn't need to invoke sleepless nights thinking of the four horsemen of the apocalypse approaching. The headless CMS architecture is still developing and as it evolves, it will become a useful tool for both developers and marketers alike – whether client-side or agency-side.

Headless Architecture Uncovered

In the past, a traditional CMS was used alongside a templating engine to render web pages to be displayed on desktops, laptops, and, more recently, on mobile devices and tablets. This template rendering is known as the "head" of the CMS and determines the presentation layout of the content. But with this template approach, you are always taking full web pages and trying to manipulate them to the device on which you want them to appear. With all the new channels and devices that are emerging, this is no longer enough.

The solution: separate the head from the body. Take the elements of your web page—title, subtitle, description, header image, list items, CTA buttons, and so on—and consider them as modules that can be used to build a new page, regardless of the device. Figure out how you want to display them on any given device, and call the API to actually get the content from the CMS. Use the CMS as the content repository and management tool it is designed to be and build perfect presentation for the channels you need.

The Good Stuff

Every good marketer wants to do as much as possible to have a big impact on customers. But at the same time, there are only so many hours in the day. So, the ultimate goal for a marketer is going to be to deliver exceptional value in the most efficient manner possible—the headless architecture is going to help achieve this goal. With a headless CMS, marketers can manage structured content in one place and display it anywhere. By using a modularised content approach in a headless CMS, it is possible to write content once and display it on any channel or device. It will save countless hours of rewriting and copy pasting content to be used in various locations. Moreover, it will help to break down organisational silos and make sure that the content and experience you're creating in various teams is consistent.

A “cloud-first CMS” is built from scratch with the cloud in mind. It gives users the opportunity to run their CMS as Software as a Service (SaaS). It means that all updates, hotfixes, maintenance, and so on, are controlled by the vendor and rolled out to all customers at the same time. Marketers won't need to worry that upgrading or maintenance is going to mess up all their hard work, and they are not relying on a developer to do all of it. Instead, developers will be free to work on business priorities.

All in all, it means that you can deliver the same content in the best layout possible much more efficiently, no matter which device you display it on, including wearables and even IoT devices. It helps make the customer journey easier, more consistent, and more appealing for the people seeing the content. And we are all aware of the impact an exceptional customer experience can have on your conversion rates, customer loyalty, and overall revenue. The fact that reusing content with a headless CMS will save many hours of creating and rewriting content over and over again is a huge added bonus to your business and will free you up to do more meaningful work.

The Headless Marketer Is Just around the Corner

The headless CMS architecture is technical—there is no point denying that fact—and it means a change of attitude for marketers to come to terms with it. But it is not all doom and gloom. The multichannel era is here and marketers need to start considering this in their strategies. Instead of planning an entire website template at once, marketers should start focusing on placing content in many forms across many channels and on many different devices. The headless architecture is not something to fear for marketers but rather a first step in this new emerging era. To succeed, marketers need to think of content in modules, where an individual module can be used independently from a web page as well as part of a web page—content should be created with all channels in mind.

In a pure headless CMS, marketers might also find that some specific website elements are not properly supported. For example, sitemaps are not supported in a headless CMS as it is merely a content repository and the website back end is controlled elsewhere by the developer. It doesn’t mean that sitemaps won’t exist—of course they will, however, the marketer just won’t have to deal with them. But the headless architecture is still developing and, very soon, you will see other ways in which marketers will be supported in this platform. One such way is a head-optional approach. This is where you will be able to utilise a "head" for specific channels, meaning you have the option of using rendering and being able to determine the presentation layout of the content. It is an option that is for more technical-minded marketers that might not need a developer at every stage.

Finally, analytics, optimisation and personalisation features are often non-existent or very limited in a headless CMS. However, it is quite easy to combine other tools with your headless CMS, such as Google Analytics or Google Optimize, for these purposes. Of course, you also have the option of waiting until vendors begin providing them out of the box.

Patience Is a Virtue

As the Persian poet, Saadi, once said; "Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy." There are actually already many benefits for marketers using the headless CMS approach, such as shorter time to market, higher agility or the ability to manage omni-channel content in one place. It is true, the main benefits of headless CMS are currently felt by developers. Marketers might find themselves using the products and working with a headless CMS, but it might not currently be providing the wealth of functionality they desire. But given time to mature and develop, you will start to see the headless CMS architecture cater more for marketers. Reusable modularised content is already going to benefit a lot of them, but there is yet more to come from this emerging technology.

Thanks to Stephen Griffin for sharing their advice and opinions in this post. Stephen’s path to the CMS industry is a tricky one to explain. A former personal trainer, he moved into football (soccer) coaching, management, and promotion. After a brief career break, a year as a Marketing Copywriter, and a spell as the Product Marketing Manager, he is now the Marketing Communications Team Leader at Kentico software.

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4 Ways to Converting Digitally Savvy Buyers

May 16, 2017

The way that consumers interact with companies and their brands is rapidly evolving. No longer is it enough for a business to bring out a new product or service, then book some advertising airtime to promote their offering and sit back as the sales come in. 

In the digital age, people are increasingly aware of what they want and how they want to consume it. If a business is not offering content online that is both relevant and interesting, they will face significant challenges in converting visitors to customers.

ENSURE A CONSISTENT EXPERIENCE ON ALL DEVICES

One of the most common mistakes New Zealand businesses can make when it comes to developing their website relates to not delivering a consistent experience across all channels. If a visitor starts their digital journey on their mobile on the commute to work and finishes it at home on their PC, they want to see the same content delivered in a manner fitting the device they are using. If they are not able to do this, they feel a degree of disconnection with the content you are providing them.

Imagine you are shopping for that special gift for a loved one on your mobile device and want to complete your purchase at lunchtime on your work laptop. The online store should make this as easy as possible for you, not have you rummaging around on their site again to find the same item. You would probably give up and go somewhere else.

SHORTEN THE PATH TO CONTENT

A good rule of thumb when developing a business website is that the shorter the path to the content an online visitor needs, the better. This means businesses need to think about how consumers can discover content through the website’s menu, the CTAs that are present on pages, the ease of the checkout process or how the search function works. 

And don’t forget the content itself; writing complex text is going to send visitors away. Consumers need text that is clearly aimed at the reader first and that’s easy to consume. Overloading visitors with numerous CTAs and too much content will confuse and frustrate them – and could ultimately overshadow any work that has been put into personalising a website, costing the business potential sales.

PERSONALISE CONTENT FOR DIFFERENT CUSTOMERS

Personalisation is key to earning the respect and trust of online visitors. Businesses that only offer static content on their website, which fails to take into consideration who they are as individuals based on location, demographics, site history and interests, risk losing potential customers forever. However, those businesses that deliver personalised, dynamic content across all digital channels, not just their website, keep visitors on their pages longer, which in turn increases their conversion rate and a business’ all-important Google ranking. 

Through this increased activity, Google gets a better understanding of the type of content your business is delivering, which will help increase organic traffic. Additionally, when visitors reach a website and discover that there is new, tailored content available they are more likely to return, generating even more traffic.

CREATE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

While personalised content should be the key pillar of any business’ digital strategy, there are other considerations that need to be factored in. Consumers of content respond positively when they feel there is a sense of community – reviews of products and services, social media share buttons, forums, a blog with the possibility to add comments are especially important. Because if a consumer wants to talk about a business, and they feel they can connect with other likeminded people around a brand to discuss topics and products that are relevant to them, the level of engagement and the way that company is perceived in the community are enhanced. This should be the ultimate goal of creating a personalised online experience for consumers – happy, engaged customers that become brand advocates in their own right.

New Zealand businesses today are dealing with consumers who are digitally savvy and, because they don’t have a lot of time to waste, rather unforgiving. If a business doesn’t deliver a website that connects with its visitors, they are missing a huge opportunity.

WAYNE JASEK IS THE DIRECTOR OF APAC OPERATIONS FOR KENTICO. HE SPECIALISES IN HELPING BUSINESSES DELIVER EXCEPTIONAL ONLINE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES THAT TURN VISITORS INTO CUSTOMERS.

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4 Ways to Converting Digitally Savvy Buyers

May 16, 2017

The way that consumers interact with companies and their brands is rapidly evolving. No longer is it enough for a business to bring out a new product or service, then book some advertising airtime to promote their offering and sit back as the sales come in. 

In the digital age, people are increasingly aware of what they want and how they want to consume it. If a business is not offering content online that is both relevant and interesting, they will face significant challenges in converting visitors to customers.

ENSURE A CONSISTENT EXPERIENCE ON ALL DEVICES

One of the most common mistakes New Zealand businesses can make when it comes to developing their website relates to not delivering a consistent experience across all channels. If a visitor starts their digital journey on their mobile on the commute to work and finishes it at home on their PC, they want to see the same content delivered in a manner fitting the device they are using. If they are not able to do this, they feel a degree of disconnection with the content you are providing them.

Imagine you are shopping for that special gift for a loved one on your mobile device and want to complete your purchase at lunchtime on your work laptop. The online store should make this as easy as possible for you, not have you rummaging around on their site again to find the same item. You would probably give up and go somewhere else.

SHORTEN THE PATH TO CONTENT

A good rule of thumb when developing a business website is that the shorter the path to the content an online visitor needs, the better. This means businesses need to think about how consumers can discover content through the website’s menu, the CTAs that are present on pages, the ease of the checkout process or how the search function works. 

And don’t forget the content itself; writing complex text is going to send visitors away. Consumers need text that is clearly aimed at the reader first and that’s easy to consume. Overloading visitors with numerous CTAs and too much content will confuse and frustrate them – and could ultimately overshadow any work that has been put into personalising a website, costing the business potential sales.

PERSONALISE CONTENT FOR DIFFERENT CUSTOMERS

Personalisation is key to earning the respect and trust of online visitors. Businesses that only offer static content on their website, which fails to take into consideration who they are as individuals based on location, demographics, site history and interests, risk losing potential customers forever. However, those businesses that deliver personalised, dynamic content across all digital channels, not just their website, keep visitors on their pages longer, which in turn increases their conversion rate and a business’ all-important Google ranking. 

Through this increased activity, Google gets a better understanding of the type of content your business is delivering, which will help increase organic traffic. Additionally, when visitors reach a website and discover that there is new, tailored content available they are more likely to return, generating even more traffic.

CREATE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

While personalised content should be the key pillar of any business’ digital strategy, there are other considerations that need to be factored in. Consumers of content respond positively when they feel there is a sense of community – reviews of products and services, social media share buttons, forums, a blog with the possibility to add comments are especially important. Because if a consumer wants to talk about a business, and they feel they can connect with other likeminded people around a brand to discuss topics and products that are relevant to them, the level of engagement and the way that company is perceived in the community are enhanced. This should be the ultimate goal of creating a personalised online experience for consumers – happy, engaged customers that become brand advocates in their own right.

New Zealand businesses today are dealing with consumers who are digitally savvy and, because they don’t have a lot of time to waste, rather unforgiving. If a business doesn’t deliver a website that connects with its visitors, they are missing a huge opportunity.

WAYNE JASEK IS THE DIRECTOR OF APAC OPERATIONS FOR KENTICO. HE SPECIALISES IN HELPING BUSINESSES DELIVER EXCEPTIONAL ONLINE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES THAT TURN VISITORS INTO CUSTOMERS.

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Migrating to a New Site without Interruption

May 12, 2017

BY JIM PANAGAS

The sheer mention of “redesigning the website” puts people and organizations into a cold sweat. The doubting Thomas say it’s something that should be avoided for as long as possible, costs a fortune, and disrupts the business in the process. That may have been the case in years past, but with modern content management systems, it’s quite a different story. 

Today, companies and organizations can learn a new software platform, build a new site, and successfully migrate from the old site to the new with virtually no interruption to the business.

Just ask the people who run Belfast Waterfront, an ultra-modern conferencing and entertainment center that has hosted meetings for organizations ranging from the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and presented live performances from Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance to Grammy award-winning Train. 
 

Using the website to promote the company's newly extended conference facilities

The original website, built using a custom designed CMS back in 2007, was focused on live events and performances. 

“Back in 2012, we made a decision to substantially expand the venue’s conferencing facilities,” explained Janice Crowe, marketing communications manager at Belfast Waterfront. “Following that expansion, we recognized that we needed to improve not only the functionality of the site, but also expand the range of content so that each of our key users’ needs were addressed.”

“It was determined that a more modern CMS was in order…and a dramatic redesign of the site was an absolute necessity,” added Lisa Turkington, digital marketing executive at Belfast Waterfront. “This is a spectacular venue, located in the heart of Belfast and offering stunning views of the River Lagan. We wanted to give visitors a sense of what our venue could offer and for them to enjoy a unique and memorable user experience.”

Partnering with local digital agency

Not having the internal resources to develop such a site, Belfast Waterfront put out a tender [equivalent of a request for proposal, RFP] and ended up partnering with local technology and design agency i3 Digital. A series of meetings were held so that the i3 Digital team became intimately familiar with the organization and the venue. Similarly, training sessions were held so that the Belfast Waterfront team could start getting accustomed with the new CMS platform.

“It’s invaluable to spend some time away from your desk, away from your normal work routine,” explained Turkington. “Spend the time and actually think about who your key users are, what kind of information they are trying to find, and the best ways to put that information at their fingertips. There’s no substitute for brainstorming like that.”

Dramatic imagery and mobile experience top the list of requirements

Together, Belfast Waterfront and i3 Digital determined that the site should feature a carousel of dramatic photography… showcase a wide variety of meeting spaces… accommodate fluctuations in site traffic (shows and concerts tend to create spikes in Web traffic once dates are announced)…support online ticket sales…collect information about website visitors…and present a very favorable impression of the facility on smart phones and tablets. 

“Some 60 percent of our site traffic is already coming from mobile devices,” noted Turkington. “So the mobile experience is crucial for us.”
 

The Belfast Waterfront website project started in Aug. of 2015 and took just six months, with the new website going live in Jan. 2016. 

Three million page views – and counting

“When I think back to what we had before versus what we have today, they are worlds apart. Since the website launch, we’ve had nearly 3 million page views and 1 million total visits. I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.”

(Watch their interview here)

The new site is live but…

While the hardest part of the job may be over, keeping sites like Belfast Waterfront vibrant and alive takes a sustained effort over time.
 

“Building a well-designed, well maintained website is an evolutionary process,” concluded Neill Murphy, Technical Development Manager for i3 Digital. “The site is constantly evolving,” confirmed Mark Lyness, Marketing Manager at i3 Digital. “It’s not static, not something that you do just once and forget about it.”

“In addition to the daily and weekly updates that Lisa and the marketing team are making,” he continued, “we like to do a technical re-assessment every six months, to make sure that the site is at peak operating efficiency and taking advantage of all of the capabilities that the CMS platform has to offer.”

What comes next?

“Well,” said Turkington, “we’ve already launched a site for Ulster Hall, our sister venue. We used the same approach, the same principles.”

“Now that the Belfast Waterfront site has been up and running for more than a year, we’re certainly thinking about what comes next. Something that we’re working on at the moment is the creation of a 3D model of the building so event organizers can experience the facility online, as well as a VR-ready virtual tour of the venue.  We’re looking forward to launching these very soon and enriching the user’s experience of our website.”

About the Author

Jim Panagas has been writing about software and technology for more than two decades. He’s currently serving as the director of PR & analyst relations for Kentico Software.

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What Makes for an Effective Small Business Today?

April 21, 2017

BY WAYNE JASEK

It goes without saying that an effective small business website is critical today. Having a website that is able to track the customer journey gives you the ability to speak to your visitors as individuals.

People are extremely web savvy these days and appreciate when their digital experiences take into account who they are, based on their behaviour, demographics and history, in order to direct them the right content at the right time. Fail in this – fail to meet or exceed their expectations – and they will likely take their business and money elsewhere.

One of the most common mistakes small businesses make when it comes to developing their website relates to not delivering a consistent experience across all channels. If a visitor starts their digital journey on their mobile on the commute to work and finishes it at home on their PC, they want to see the same content delivered in a manner fitting the device they are using. If they are not able to do this, they feel a degree of disconnection with the content you are providing them.

Imagine you are shopping for that special gift for a loved one on your mobile device and want to complete your purchase at lunchtime on your work laptop. The online store should make this as easy as possible for you, not have you rummaging around on their site again to find the same item. You would probably give up and go somewhere else.

Never forget that customer loyalty isn’t a given – you have to earn it. Moreover, usually you get one shot at it, so you have to get it right from the outset.

Ahead of developing a website, small businesses need to consider who their visitors are and build detailed personas around them. They should really get to know them, interview them, map their customer journeys, describe their typical behaviour, what they read, where they go for information. Be as detailed as you can in order to make them as tangible as possible. Then, build a digital experience around this. Of course, it is much more detailed than this, but unless you can digitally shake the hand of your potential customers, you haven’t got a chance of devising a realistic digital strategy.

People want a digital experience on their terms, so make sure you give it to them. It is important that small business websites move visitors through their site in respect to the way they consume information, based on their persona and digital touchpoints.

It is vital that any content featured on a small-business website should be reader-first content. Know their pain points, know how you can solve them, know how you can reassure their doubts, know how their minds work. And remember, different personas want different things.

Small businesses are today dealing with consumers who are digitally savvy and, because they don’t have a lot of time to waste, rather unforgiving. If a business doesn’t deliver a website that connects with its visitors, they are missing a huge opportunity. It is critical that businesses build accurate visitor personas, update and constantly refine them to allow for a responsive and personalised web experience critical to thriving in today’s consumer-led digital age.

Wayne Jasek, Director of APAC Operations, Kentico

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